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Nicolaus Stanitski, a Henschke ancestor, originally planted the Hill of Grace vineyard during the 1860s above the Barossa Valley. During the 1950s Cyril Henschke took his family concern back to wine and established the Hill of Grace label in 1956. The Shiraz vines – many now over 140 years old – are among the world's oldest genetic Shiraz plant material. It is remarkable that the vineyard remained intact considering the economic uncertainty and the social conditions of the time. The vineyard is planted on red clay soils overlain by sandy and silty loams interspersed with gravels.
There are several blocks including Grandfather’s Post Office Blocks One and Two, Young which is made up of the younger selected material located near the vines of the old post office, and the Church Block, House Block and Windmill Block. Vintage takes place during mid to late April, each parcel vinified separately to maximise blending options. The Hill of Grace style has developed along Grange lines, but by a circuitous route. Vinification takes place in open headed down fermenters with regular pumping over. Towards dryness the wine is drained and pressed. Partial barrel fermentation in a combination of new American and French oak follows to integrate oak and create complexity. The wine is then allowed to mature in the same oak for a period of about 18 months before bottling and further maturation.
HILL OF GRACE
Location: Eden Valley wine region, 4 km north-west of Henschke Cellars at Keyneton, in the Barossa Range, South Australia.
Varieties: Shiraz (on own roots). Vines originate from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early European settlers. Riesling and Semillon.
Wines Produced: Shiraz – individual vineyard bottling since 1958.
Age: Oldest vines planted in 1860s.
Average Yield: 5 tonnes/hectare (2 tonnes/acre)
Soil: Alluvial, sandy loam over clay.
Trellis: 2 wire vertical/single wire at 70 centimetres.
Planting: Wide planting – 3.1 metres x 3.7 metres. Most are planted east-west, some north-south. Dry grown.
Treatments: Tilled and dodged for many years without herbicide. Only copper and sulphur used for foliage sprays. Now mulched and grassed down. Fungus problems are minimal. Vineyard can be considered 'organic'.
Maintenance Quality: Mass selection carried out over two growing seasons. Establishment of a mother source block.
Rainfall: 520 mm
Altitude: 400 metres
Year Vintage Quality Optimum Drinking
1984 Exceptional 20+ years
1985 Exceptional 15+ years
1986 Exceptional 20+ years
1987 Very Good 15+ years
1988 Exceptional 15+ years
1989 Great 15+ years
1990 Exceptional 20+ years
1991 Excellent 20+ years
1992 Excellent 20+ years
1993 Great 15+ years
1994 Exceptional 20+ years
1995 Excellent 20+ years
1996 Exceptional 25+ years
1997 Very Good 15+ years
1998 Exceptional 20+ years
1999 Excellent 20+ years
2000 Not Produced
2001 Excellent 20+ years
2002 Exceptional 25+ years
2003 Great 15+ years
2004 Excellent 20+ years
2005 Exceptional 20+ years
2006 Exceptional 20+ years
2007 Great 20+ years
Australia / A year of below average precipitation due to a dry winter. However, summer rains in January and again in March made this an exceptional year producing exceptional red wines, despite the poor fruit set for Shiraz.
In 1962 there were 7,174 hectares of vines in the Barossa and 31,774 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in that vintage.
The introduction of the first Barossa Spaetlese Riesling by Orlando in 1956 had ushered in a new era of late harvest and spaetlese styles which reached its peak in 1962.
This interest in Riesling also fueled cool climate viticulture in the Barossa, including the development of the Steingarten vineyard on the rolling slopes of the Eden Valley by Orlando and the redevelopment of Pewsey Vale by S. Smith & Co. The Barossa has continued to innovate in winemaking technology with the first use of atomic absorption spectrophotometry for wine analysis at Penfolds.
Using a SO2 vacuum method, Australia's first rosé wine was made at Kaiser Stuhl. The wine went on to win gold medals at Australian wine shows and became a popular new style of wine for consumers.
John Vickery introduced antioxidant manipulation of white wines at Leo Buring using an inert gas blanket of carbon dioxide and ascorbic acid as an "oxygen scavenger".
The 1962 was the first Grange Hermitage to be made primarily from fruit sourced from the Kalimna vineyard of Barossa - also one of the best! This year also marked a breakthrough in acceptance by wine judges and the wine drinking public of Grange.
The Australian Wine Research Institute has named its first winemaker, Dr CR Hale.